HOT TOPICS ▶ Climate Change     Undoing The New Deal     The Real Baltimore     Reality Asserts Itself     United Kingdom    

  April 17, 2008

How World Bank policies led to famine in Haiti

TRNN REPLAY - Raj Patel: International trade rules have ravaged Haiti's domestic food production
Members don't see ads. If you are a member, and you're seeing this appeal, click here


Share to Facebook Share to Twitter

You are, simply, the best! - Per Bengtsson
Log in and tell us why you support TRNN

Food riots in Haiti caused the deaths of five people last week, including a UN peacekeeper, and forced the country's prime minister out of office. The country is "a place of terrible turmoil," Raj Patel, of UC- Berkeley's Center for African Studies, tells The Real News Network. Patel, author of Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System, lays the blame for Haiti's dire situation at the feet of the global trade system, which has forced Haitians to buy imported food staples, despite the existence of a once-robust agricultural economy.


VOICEOVER: Brazilian soldiers handed out food to the residents of a shantytown in Haiti on Tuesday in the calm after the rioting over food prices.

HAITIAN WOMAN (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): I'm happy that the Brazilian soldiers are giving food; we have a terrible food situation in this country.

VOICEOVER: No country has escaped the effects of escalating wheat and rice prices. The poor nations like Haiti have been hardest hit. The Real News spoke to Raj Patel, author of Stuffed and Starved: Markets, Power and the Hidden Battle for the World Food System, about the factors driving the food crisis in Haiti.

RAJ PATEL, AUTHOR, "STUFFED AND STARVED": Haiti at the moment is a place of incredible turmoil. For months, people in Haiti have been going hungry. There have been stories of people there eating mud cakes, cakes made of margarine and soil and salt, to keep hunger at bay. The recent rises, particularly in the price of rice, have tipped people over the edge. And last week, five people were killed in protests: four protesters and a UN peacekeeper. And over the weekend, the prime minister of Haiti was voted out of office by a special session of the Senate. There's such endemic poverty that people can't afford to eat. That poverty is a result in part of US policy and in part to do with the economic policy of the regime in Haiti. In '94-'95, there was a coup against President Aristide. Bill Clinton made a deal, saying, "Look, Aristide, we'll get you back in power, but only if you liberalize your economy." And so this means, very specifically, getting rid of tariff protections around wheat and around rice. Farmers are being absolutely driven out of business by US rice that comes with subsidies and with all kinds of agri-, you know, support policies. And the tragedy is that we need farmers now more than ever. There are ways of buying food locally as food aid and distributing it locally. That's a much better short-term solution than shipping things all the way from Canada. But in the medium term, policies that support local agricultural production and that allow people on low incomes to access food effectively are the kinds of policies that are required. And, unfortunately, those are the kinds of policies that are illegal under the World Trade Organization rules as they stand at the moment. The reason that you haven't been hearing the World Bank, for example, sounding the alarm about this is that the World Bank has been precisely responsible for generating the kinds of free trade economic policies that have led to this situation. And I find it profoundly ironic that the response of the head of the World Bank, a man called Robert Zoellick, is it's absolutely urgent that we liberalize trade even further, so that food is available to poor people. [Inaudible] this as an opportunity to further deliver the same medicine that sent this message in the first place. In the international aid agencies, it was inconceivable that we could be going down a road that looked different from a basic neoliberal strategy. As a result of that and a result of policies that make markets freer, we're seeing the market doing exactly as it should and discriminating against people who can't afford to eat.


Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.


Our automatic spam filter blocks comments with multiple links and multiple users using the same IP address. Please make thoughtful comments with minimal links using only one user name. If you think your comment has been mistakenly removed please email us at

latest stories

Corbyn Allies in Labour Attacked For Supporting Palestinian Struggle
Are Oil Billionaires Trying to Undermine Our First Amendment Rights?
Chief in Charge of Internal Affairs To Retire from Baltimore Police
Paul Jay: Threats facing Humanity, Russiagate & the Role of Independent Media
Corbyn Smeared as 'Russian Stooge' for Requesting Evidence on Poisoned Spy
West's Anti-Russian Fervor Will Help Putin Win Election On Sunday
Corbyn Calls for Evidence in Escalating Poison Row
Expressions of Afro-Asian Solidarity during the Cold War
Sanders Resolution Against War in Yemen Challenged by Mattis
Senate Expands 'Lobbyist Bill' to Deregulate Real Estate
Economic Benefits of Tax Cuts Should Have Arrived - Where Are They?
Stephen Hawking: Fighter for Progressive Politics
Trump's Tariff Travesty Will Not Re-Industrialize the US
Is Another World Possible? - Leo Panitch on RAI (4/4)
Students Demand Leaders Address the Root Causes of Gun Violence
Far-Right Ministers in Chile's New Government Placed in Sensitive Positions
Israeli Military Strangles Its Own Weapons Manufacturer to Privatize It
Not Without Black Women
Newly Tapped Sec of State Mike Pompeo Comes with Deep Ties to the Koch Brothers
The CIA's New Torturer-in-Chief
Anti-Pipeline Indigenous 'Mass Mobilization' Has Begun
UN Rapporteur: US Sanctions Cause Death in Venezuela
Colombia's Conservatives Make Gains in Congress Vote Amid Fraud Allegations
Wilkerson: Trump Won't Make Peace with North Korea
The Rise of Jeremy Corbyn and Class Struggle in the UK Labour Party - RAI with Leo Panitch (3/4)
Western Governments Whitewash Saudi Dictator MBS as 'Reformer'
US Cowardice Prevents Middle East Peace
Should China Maintain its Non-interference Policy toward Africa?
Bills to Ban Styrofoam and Crude Oil Terminals Pass Baltimore City Council
Elites Impose Education Policies They Would Never Accept for their Children,, The Real News Network, Real News Network, The Real News, Real News, Real News For Real People, IWT are trademarks and service marks of Independent World Television inc. "The Real News" is the flagship show of IWT and The Real News Network.

All original content on this site is copyright of The Real News Network. Click here for more

Problems with this site? Please let us know

Web Design, Web Development and Managed Hosting